An epidemiological study of the health of Sri Lankan tea plantation workers associated with long term exposure to paraquat

Br J Ind Med. 1993 Mar;50(3):257-63. doi: 10.1136/oem.50.3.257.


Pulmonary function tests (FVC, FEV1, FEV1/FVC%, TLCO, single breath CO diffusion), chest x ray film, renal function (serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen), liver function (serum alanine aminotransferase, aspartate transferase, and alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin, total protein, and albumin), a haematological screen (haemoglobin and packed cell volume), and a general clinical examination were performed on 85 paraquat spraymen (mean spraying time 12 years) and on two control groups (76 factory workers and 79 general workers) frequency matched for age and years of occupational service. All the subjects were men. There were no clinically important differences in any of the measurements made between the study group and the two control groups. In particular the results of the lung function tests, appropriate for paraquat toxicity of the study group, were similar to those of the control groups. The same was true of blood tests for liver and kidney function. The incidence of skin damage, nose bleeds, and nail damage in the study group was slightly higher than in the control groups but lower than the incidence reported for paraquat workers in previous studies. The results of this study confirmed that long term spraying of paraquat, at the concentrations used, produced no adverse health effects, in particular no lung damage, attributable to the occupational use of the herbicide.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / chemically induced
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Maximal Expiratory Flow-Volume Curves
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Paraquat / adverse effects*
  • Sri Lanka / epidemiology
  • Tea
  • Time Factors
  • Total Lung Capacity
  • Vital Capacity


  • Tea
  • Paraquat